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Duke Energy Lineworkers Assist Beyond Hurricane Irma
March 2018

​Duke Energy line technician apprentice Shawn Tillis remains engaged in his Florida community well after Hurricane Irma hit the state in early September 2017.

When Tillis thinks about Hurricane Irma, he remembers Mary Schwartz, a woman in her 90s.

Mary and her husband, Larry,  live along the Rainbow River in Dunnellon, Fla.  Larry takes care of his wife of more than 70 years around-the-clock because she is confined to an electric bed.

When Hurricane Irma knocked out the Schwartz’s power in September, the bed trapped Mary’s foot, and she was unable to get out of the bed for more than a day.

“I was afraid to get out of the bed because it was too high and I could fall,” said Mary.

Larry flagged down lineworkers who were restoring power near his neighborhood and asked them for help.

“We couldn’t get their power back on for at least eight more hours, but we were able to get the bed lowered,” Duke Energy’s Shawn Tillis said. “It was the least we could do to help make her more comfortable.”

Tillis wanted to do something nice for the couple to thank them for their “positive energy” on that bleak September day.

"I wanted to make things a little easier for them, a little better,” he said, “to put a smile on their faces.”

Tillis contacted Duke Energy’s Community Relations and Corporate Communications teams to see how the company could help. After considering several ideas, the team decided to surprise the couple  with several packages filled with daily necessities, such as cotton shirts, sheets and towels. The Duke Energy team  even brought Mary her favorite ice cream cake and arranged for the delivery of a new ENERGY STAR refrigerator.

“You’ve gone the extra mile,” Larry said of Tillis, “and we appreciate that.”

This is just one example of how electric company crews help local communities during crises and serve those in need.

An original version of this story can be found on Duke Energy’s illumination website.